Before arriving in Oklahoma in the 1830's, the Choctaw occupied most of the area that is now Mississippi and western Alabama. Their own history has them coming originally “from the west” and finally settling in Mississippi. By late prehistoric times they lived in scattered villages and enjoyed a rich diet of game, fish, gathered foods, and cultivated corn, beans, and squash. Surplus foods were traded with other peoples in the region.
With the arrival of the Europeans, new tools and goods became available to the Choctaw, who were among the earliest native peoples to assimilate new technologies. They served as middlemen between their native neighbors and, in succession, the Spanish, French, British, and U.S. inhabitants of the area. The Choctaw built substantial log houses and constructed fences to mark property in imitation of the Europeans. With better access to trade goods, the Choctaw also furnished their dwellings with ceramic dishes, metal pots and pans, steel cutlery, and hunting guns. By 1826 they had written laws, a representative form of government, and an established formal system of schooling.